In this article I will attempt to explain why the Chicago Cubs 2013 Season wasn’t as bad as it seemed.
It just wasn’t.
Still not convinced? *sigh* Okay, I’ll try to back up my opinion with some sort of logic, and if that doesn’t work I will use stats.
Let’s go back to the end of the 2012 Season. 61-101. It was hard to watch. The games weren’t even close. Seemed like the Cubs were down six runs before the game even started. I knew it was going to take a while to purge out the bad contracts from the previous regime so I expected to watch very little baseball that season. And I didn’t.
My goal for Year 2 was 70 wins. It was a nice even number. A nine game improvement over the previous year to re-energize the fan base and get people off Epstein’s back. While they ended up with only 66 wins, which is still a five game improvement, the final two months of the season were brutal.
Here are some numbers for you.
What do they mean? I don’t know, I was just listing some numbers for you. But here are some numbers that actually mean something. Good things from the Cubs 2013 Season.
39-42: This was the Cubs record in May, June, and July. Before they started the fire sale this team played nearly .500 ball for half a season. 66 win teams to not play .500 ball for half a season.
48-55: This was the Cubs record on July 28th after a three game sweep of the Giants. The were playing some decent ball before the trade deadline. After that series the Cubs went 18-41 the rest of the way. I understand wanting to trade off certain pieces to build up the farm system, but this team could have ended up in the 75-80 win range. Which I admit, doesn’t matter to the casual observer. However, if you have a 15-20 game improvement in Year 2 of a rebuilding project you sell a lot more tickets for the upcoming season. So in a way, it does matter. More W’s = more tickets sold = more $$$.
20-33: This was the Cubs’ record in 1-run games. It can be viewed as good or bad. The record is obviously bad, but the amount of 1-run games is good. So I’m going to view it as good. Nearly 1/3rd of the Cubs games were 1-run games. Beloved sportswriter and media personality, Peter Gammons, says that when a team has a “surprising” improvement from one year to the next it’s typically because they had a significant improvement in 1-run games.
172 HR’s: This was good for 2nd in the NL (ATL). Too bad 169 of these for solo shots (not really, but it felt like it). So there is some power, but we need more people on base.
297 Doubles: This was good for 3rd in the NL (STL & ARZ).
32 HR’s / 80 RBI: This was the production the Cubs got from their third basemen (Valbuena, Ransom, and Murphy). Would love to see that come from one guy, but it’s probably cheaper this way.
21 HR’s / 66 RBI: This was the production from the catchers. This is what the Cubs were supposed to get from Soto, but he was too inconsistent (cough LAZY cough) so he was shipped out.
So, to me, the Cubs 2013 Season wasn’t a total train wreck. Sure, the last two months were hard to watch, but this organization did show me that they are on the right track. My goal for Year 3 was 80 wins, but it’s really hard to judge a franchise when they trade everyone away in July. I know help is on the way from the farm system, but other than Baez coming up mid season I don’t think there will be much help in 2014. Esptein isn’t going to spend much this off season, but I have been impressed with his ability to flip mid level free agents into decent prospects that could help the team or be used in future trades once the Cubs are in contention again.
Hang in there Cubs Nation. It’s getting better…slowly…